Monday, October 31, 2005

The Journey of an 'UlumSeeker [1]

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
اللهم صل على سيدنا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه وسلم

The Journey of an ‘Ulum Seeker
by Nadia Hanim AbdurRahman

Neither natural light nor artificial ones lit the pitch-black road which I was passing. That was strange for there should be at least the full moonlit to accompany the middle of every month. Then again, this was no stranger than the road itself. What was I doing on a dark road stretching to nowhere. I was just heading forward as if an unseen force was leading me to another end of the road if there’s one. It seemed endless though. Few kilometers from the road was another few kilometers of a road and more roads down the road. How boring can it gets just like the life I was currently in, mundane that was. Finally, an object came in sight. I could see it from a distance and quickly moved towards it. It was a body. A dead body nicely wrapped in a white clothe from head to toe. It made no sense. It should have not been anyway. It was another dream. A dream which had left me wondering of its actual gist and meaning.

I’ve been having the same dream for three days in a row. Three days earlier, I felt the urge to make the istikharah prayer. I was in a lost, not knowing which path would eventually ease my troubled mind. I knew that I was in search of something, maybe the purpose of life but isn’t it not for Allah’s sake. Indeed it is, there’s no doubt about that but I was still thinking; blank pages of thoughts initially. Then, just when the exam for my final year in Madrasah Aljunied and the A'level was nearing, the initial blank thoughts formed into ideas. I knew afterwards what should be done. I must leave my country to seek.

The final year pre-U and A'level exams were stressing me out. Which exam doesn’t? But at least this stressfulness was giving me answers, apart from the repeated dreams. I had asked an ustadz to interpret and from a well-known book of interpretation of dreams, I saw the answer, Subhanallah. Frankly I couldn’t handle the final year. I was afraid of flunking and school projects were in abundance. I was not concentrating much on my A'level and I was losing hope on it. So many things to put my mind onto and to that extent, I felt hopeless. Allah is Great. He never leave His servant in a hopeless state and so solutions came pouring in.

A teacher saw me in distress and had asked me to recite a very meaningful ayah from the Quran, which I kept and still keeping it close to me, وأفوض أمري إلى الله, إن الله بصير بالعباد. Subhanallah, this was it. The meaning from it formed tears in my eyes and my heart was bursting, not from anxiety but from relief. Why the need of having a nervous breakdown or feeling scared or stressing myself too much with unnecessary thoughts when supposedly I have to leave everything to Allah. He’s The All Controller. The environment from the country which I live in should be partly blamed also. If not for it, I wouldn’t do too much of catching up with worldly things. That’s what most of us are doing presently if we ponder and notice.

I had decided to leave the country as soon as my final exam ends. Where to? Was yet to be decided. I did come to a decision and Tarim was to be my destination. Tarim is located in hadramaut, the southern part of Yemen and it has great scholars there. That was all I knew about the place then. “Of all places, why did you choose Yemen?” asked an ustadz. Not much of an encouragement. Most of my asatizah refuted the idea of continuing my studies there and their reasons were mainly the same. The place is in Yemen and the first thing which occurred in most people’s minds when hearing about this country is to associate it with terrorism. Some asatizah had no problem with that though but their ultimate concern was that, the place is not recognized, with no shahadah. Their concern was greatly appreciated but once my heart had set to something and this was not merely something, I held on to my plan although obstacles were inevitable. My parents gave me the green light to proceed with my intention. Only to Allah I praise and say my shukr.

The journey to Tarim begun. We landed in sanaa on late November 2003 and stayed in this capital of Yemen for few days. I scanned sanaa with curiosity. The environment, the buildings, the people and their language.

We then visited the old sanaa. The place was dated to the time of Abrahah when Christianity was the religion in Yemen. The buildings in the old sanaa awed me. The buildings and architectures were unique, aging around more than thousands of years old. The people living in this place still maintained their antiqueness way of dressing which was indescribable. I felt as if I was walking through time, to the past. The phony kaabah which was built by Abrahah (He’s the one who wanted to destroy the real kaabah but failed for calamity was brought upon him by Allah before he could do so) was transformed into garbage center and sewage.

I was getting ready to proceed to Tarim. It would be more than 10 hours journey by coach. Tarim’s not at all a popular place for tourists who wanted enjoyment. It’s a place where there are no entertainments of any sorts. The condition of the place is simple and not much can be expected. Rules are based on Islamic Shariah and women are veiled from top to toe in black. That was what I was told. I was about to visit this place which I only have little idea about it.

“Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar” which means “Allah The AllMighty, Allah The AllMighty”. It was at maghrib when we finally arrived in Tarim. The call for prayer was everywhere. Every corners of Tarim was the sound of azan. Tarim’s a small town but it has around 365 masjid and when the prayers’ were being called upon, the azan from every masjid could be heard simultaneously. Subhanallah. The van which we were in stop to a halt and the men rushed to the masjid for their maghrib prayer leaving the women. The women preferably pray indoors, not in masjid and so we waited for the men to finish their prayers and to bring us to where we will be staying. I was still trying to imagine the place where I would spend most of my time in it. From the van, I observed the town. I could only see buildings but there were no people around. It was like an abandoned town but it was not. The people of Tarim were either indoors or in the masjid praying in jama’ah. Once they had finished praying, the streets were no longer empty and quiet but still, only men could be seen doing activities. The women were nowhere to be found outdoors and I assumed that they were all in their homes at that hour of time.

Alas, the final destination for my trip was only few meters away from me. I was staring at the outer part of DaruzZahra. It was still under construction then. I couldn’t imagine how it would look like in the inside but I went ahead to bang on the huge door which made of iron. The door made a heavy sound when opened and along with the other newly-comers, we entered DaruzZahra. I was awe struck by the condition inside. I was indeed deceived by the outer condition of the building. It was far from what I had expected. Instantly I knew that I would be comfortable in this place called DaruzZahra in the blessed land of Tarim.
to be continued InshaAllah...